Gifted utility Dylan Phythian hasn’t given up on his hopes of returning to the NRL one day.
After debuting with the Newcastle Knights in 2016, and scoring a try against the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the youngster was touted as a star of the future.
However, following a season-ending injury and a couple of indiscretions, he parted ways with the club in 2018, honing his craft in the Queensland Cup instead.
He then spent last year with the Blacktown Sea Eagles.
Now, back in the Hunter, Phythian’s determined to make every post a winner for the Central Newcastle Butcher Boys in the 2021 Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL).
“I’m still interested [in the NRL],” he said.
“I am young enough, being only 25.
“So, it’s something I still want to do.
“But, it is up to me to take something out of this season.
“I’ve got a little family now, so I’m not so big on travelling at the moment.
“The love of the game’s always been with me.
“However, having travelled to Sydney last year and being up in Queensland for two seasons, I just want to be at home for a while.”
Surprisingly, Phythian doesn’t have much first-hand senior experience in the Real NRL.
He played for the Knights’ NYC team in 2015, before being promoted to their NSW Cup side that same year.
“It’s my first proper season with them [Central Newcastle],” he said.
“I began there last year, did a bit of pre-season, but I got an opportunity to go down to Blacktown.
“So, I’m pretty excited about 2021.
“It’s a big change after being in the Knights’ system.
“I haven’t really had a chance to play local first grade – I think I played one game before I went to Burleigh (where he won the 2019 Intrust Super Cup grand final).
“But, the Real NRL is a pretty strong comp, so I am keen to rip in and see what it’s all about.”
As for the Butcher Boys’ fortunes, Phythian is quietly confident, especially with a line-up that features another former Knight in Luke Walsh.
“We should go well, if we remain fit and healthy,” he said.
“If everyone stays on the park, we’ll definitely be competitive.
“However, there are a number of danger sides in the comp.
“Maitland has to be up there after what they did in 2020 (winning the President’s Cup).
“I know they’ve lost a couple of players, but they’ve also gained a few.
“Wests are always strong.
“The Entrance and Wyong will add a bit to it as well.
“That’s just from word of mouth around the place, as I haven’t been here long.
“In all honesty, I don’t think there’s going to be a real weak link this season.
“It’ll be interesting that’s for sure.”
The Butcher Boys start their NSWRL Denton Cup campaign against the Wyong Roos at Morry Breen Oval on Saturday 27 March.
“It should be a good test,” Phythian said.
“Depending on the conditions, and from what a few of the blokes have told me, we might have to bring our flippers and snorkels.
“But, we’re hoping to get a game and kick off 2021 with a win.”
The clashes featuring the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs and Maitland Pickers (Kurri Kurri Sportsground) and Lakes United Seagulls and Western Suburbs Rosellas (Leneghan Oval) have been postponed.
2021 NSWRL Denton Cup
Round one draw:
Saturday 27 March –
- Kurri Kurri Bulldogs v Maitland Pickers (Kurri Kurri Sportsground) – POSTPONED
- Wyong Roos v Central Newcastle Butcher Boys (Morry Breen Oval)
- Cessnock Goannas v South Newcastle Lions (Cessnock Sportsground)
- Lakes United Seagulls v Western Suburbs Rosellas (Leneghan Oval) – POSTPONED
Sunday 28 March –
- The Entrance Tigers v Macquarie Scorpions (EDSACC Oval)
- Northern Hawks v Central Newcastle Butcher Boys (U19s, reserves – Tomaree Oval)